Following up on Tom Wolfe’s parting advice in his wonderful interviews with Peter Robinson this week, here’s something to be happy about: The upcoming McCain-Obama campaign is going to be a good thing for E pluribus unum.
Most obviously, it has become more and more laughable to maintain that America is a racist society where only white men have a chance. Plus, the Democratic candidate, because he is an African American, will need to reassure the electorate that he is not Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or Jeremiah Wright — that he rejects identity politics and wants to transcend race. Not only is this essential politically, but I think Obama really sees himself in this role. And, because he is running against a war hero in a dangerous time, Obama will also need to reassure the electorate that he is a patriot, loves America, and believes that this is a great country for everyone.
McCain, by nature and belief and because he too wants to win, will eschew playing the race card himself or allowing anyone close to him to do so. Indeed, as we saw in his reaction to the recent North Carolina state GOP ads, his inclination will be to do this to a fault. Likewise, he won’t make immigration an issue. Now, it is an issue, and one on which conservatives can differ, but my point is that having it as a central issue to the presidential campaign inevitably risks some ugliness that I’m happy to do without for a few months.
I’m not saying that either candidate is my favorite (neither is), and I’m not saying that there won’t be plenty of stupidity and demagoguery in the campaign (there will be). I’m just saying that the overarching dynamics of the campaign augur well for agreement on this proposition: That we must all be Americans first.